Calmness and Balance
Focus of the Day:
Using Both Sides of the Brain
The human brain has two hemispheres or halves that work together. The right hemisphere controls the left side of the body, and the left hemisphere controls the right side of the body. It used to be thought the right hemisphere was creative and the left was logical, though modern brain scans show a more subtle interaction. Both sides of the brain work together on most tasks, connected through a superhighway of nerve fibers called the corpus callosum.
- Today, we are going to focus on the hemispheres of your brain. There is a right and left hemisphere.
- The right hemisphere controls the left side of your body, and the left hemisphere controls the right side of your body. So, if you clap your hands, both sides are coordinating to send signals that move your hands, and both sides are receiving the sensation from your hands and putting them together into a single experience. Let’s try it. As a class, let’s clap in rhythm. Try to match the rhythm and to feel the sensation of each clap.
- Movement can be beneficial for stimulating the whole brain. Let’s pair up for five minutes with a neighbor and discover as many other movements that require us to coordinate one side of our bodies with the other side. (For example, touch right hand to left knee.)
- Let’s bring our focus back to the whole class. Who is willing to share some of your movements?
- During the year, we will take some brief study breaks to try some of these movements.
- Another fun way to get a sense of the two sides or your brain is to study facial expressions. Start with a smile. Is your smile even, or does one side of your face seem happier than the other? Now frown. Are both sides equally mad, or is one side more intense than the other? In our partner pairs, let’s make faces to discover differences between the two sides of our brains. (As an alternative, you can provide students with mirrors to check out their smiles.)
- You need to use both hemispheres to be socially and emotionally intelligent. When you are noticing your body sensations or emotions and soothing yourself, you will tend to be tapping more of your right hemisphere. When you are identifying and labeling your emotions and expressing them in words, you will tend to be working more in your left hemisphere.
- The lessons in this book will develop both sides of your brain.
- Mirrors (if you wish to have students examine their facial expressions)
Look at yourself in a mirror and smile. Does one side of your face look happier than the other side? What does this tell you about the two hemispheres of your brain?
“How we focus our attention shapes the structure of the brain.”
—Daniel Siegel M.D., Mindsight